Two religions, one relationship

Aja Brown

Families’ opinions weigh on couple’s future together

Editor’s note: This is the second of two stories about relations that cross racial or religious lines. Neither are “typical” in that every experience is different. But they are a look inside the meeting of different worlds.

When sophomore marketing major Sasha Carter walks through a crowd of people smiling up at boyfriend Josh Barrett, senior philosophy major, she no longer notices the stares.

“I don’t even care anymore,” said Carter, who is biracial. “I’ve been around mixed relationships my entire life so I don’t pay attention to things like that.”

Carter, whose complexion resembles the shade of a warm cup of tapioca pudding, was raised by her white mother in a small, predominately white section of town in Dover.

Although she was very close to her black father and that side of her family, in school, all of her friends were white. All of her boyfriends were white, too, including Barrett, whose father is Irish and mother is Jewish.

His mother brought him up in a strong Jewish community, but many of his friends are black.

“I’m from Cleveland Heights, where it’s like 80 percent black,” Barrett said, laughing. “So, my friends are all fine with it. I knew my mom would prefer me to date a Jewish girl for cultural reasons, but she likes her (Carter). So she doesn’t have a problem with it either.”

Barrett said if Carter does not choose to convert to Judaism, she and any children they have would not be accepted as Jewish.

“If we were to get married today, only two or three family members would show up because Sasha isn’t Jewish,” Barrett said.

Barrett said that he knows that in the long run, some of his more religious family members will probably try to convert Carter over. But to him, that is not what is important.

“It’s hard to find good people as it is,” he said. “I’m not going to give up my relationship just to date someone Jewish who I might not even like.”

Carter, who grew up attending an African Methodist Episcopal church, said that she doesn’t mind them attempting conversion because as of right now she has no strong religion that she values.

“When I was younger, I went to church all the time,” Carter said. “But I don’t go anymore because they were hypocritical. At church they (the congregation) would act like they really cared, but as soon as you leave, they talk about you.”

It’s not so much the religious part of converting that worries Carter. It’s the cultural changes.

“No Christmas, no Easter,” Carter said. “I would want my family to at least recognize these holidays as a time to come together.”

“I would definitely not want my children to celebrate these holidays,” Barrett said. He said that as a child he sometimes envied his friends who had tall pine trees covered with bright lights all stuffed underneath with gifts. But, he said he doesn’t feel deprived now that he is older.

“I would want them to have a strong Jewish community to fall back on like I did,” he said.

Carter and Barrett are not sure how they are going to handle the holidays. Still, Barrett said that this issue would not be enough to keep him from marrying Carter.

“It’s probably because my mom is OK with it,” said Barrett. “If she had a problem with it, then I might feel differently.”

Contact student life reporter Aja Brown at [email protected].